Consider Exodus 20:7: “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.”
What if this isn’t just a matter of vocabulary? There are plenty of other places in the Scriptures where you’re told to watch your language. What if, instead, this refers to ambassadorship?
I’m sure you’ve noticed that names in the Bible are often very complex. The poor kid would have to learn most of the alphabet just to spell his name. You get real tongue twisters like Mahalaleel or Mahalalel in some translations (Genesis 5:12) and Zurishaddai (Numbers 1:6) and Shephatiah (Ezra 2:4). Yes, they’re pronounceable, but you have to give them a good, hard look. This gets more complicated since they’re transliterated, or spelled by sound rather than translated for meaning, from Hebrew to Greek to English (or depending on what source text your Bible uses, you might have to throw in Latin).
Once you figure out how to say the name, you’re not finished yet. The names have meanings. According to the Blue Letter Bible, Mahalaleel means “The blessed God.” Zurishaddai means “The Almighty is my rock and strength.” Shephatiah means “The Lord that judges.”
Names are significant because they link to the identity of the person. If you’re taking someone’s name, you are representing that person. When that person is God, you need to be very careful.
Random trivia point: Puritans were also known for their really interesting names in a very different kind of way. According to the More Baby Names book I have (No, there are no storks coming my way … I use it to come up with character names in my writing), there are records of names like Fear-Not and Search-the-Scriptures. In fact, one poor kid in Rhode Island was named “Through-Much-Tribulation-We-Enter-Into-The-Kingdom-of-Heaven Clapp.” Makes you wonder what his nickname was, y’know? Anyway, back to the point.
There are examples in Scripture of people who weren’t very careful about being God’s ambassadors. There was Moses who hit the rock when he was supposed to just talk to it, and for that, God forbid him to go to the Promised Land. He didn’t lose his salvation, fortunately. We know that because he’s one of the two who show up at the Transfiguration, and there’s evidence to support that he’s also one of the two Witnesses in Revelation 11.
Who else? King Saul blew it big time first when he assumed the duty of a priest and then when he consulted divination instead of God. As a result, Saul lost the throne to David. David committed adultery and murder in short order. The prophet called him on that, and he repented, but he still lost his son. It’s encouraging to see that David made huge mistakes but could still be called a man after God’s own heart because he repented when he was confronted by either his own conscience or by someone else. In the New Testament, Ananais and his wife Sapphira were false representatives when they pretended to give everything to the Lord but kept a little back for themselves, and they both got taken out of the game. The error was not that they kept some of the money for themselves, but that they pretended to be more generous than they were. They sought their own glory rather than the glory of God.
You’ll note that each time someone was a poor ambassador for God, there were consequences, even if there was repentance. We need to make sure we’re being proper representatives of God. Remember that people are watching, and you might be the only Bible in their lives. Be who God made you to be, certainly; and through that lens, make sure you correctly serve as his ambassador.